Shakespeare Festival Sets Out For the Wild West


Courtesy of Matthew Rocca

Brian Ponce, School News Writer

Attention all Preuss theater kids and Shakespeare geeks! The Shakespeare Festival has officially returned this 2021-2022 school year as a film, which premiered on Thursday, May 19th in the Walton Center from 5:00 PM to 6:30 PM.

Shakespeare Festival has been a 15-year-long Preuss tradition in which Drama I and Drama II students perform a variety of Shakespeare plays in front of the whole school. What makes the Shakespeare Festival unique is that each Shakespearean play that is performed is recontextualized for a modern audience in mind, which means that every play is set from a wide scope of genres.

The theme of this year’s Shakespeare Festival was set in the Wild West. The inspiration for this year’s theme comes from the Spaghetti-Western genre, which was highly influential in igniting a revival of Western-themed movies throughout the late 20th century. The Preuss Drama Department performed a combination of two Shakespearan classics, Othello and King Lear.

According to Studio Arts I, II, and 9th-grade advisory teacher, Ms. Noorzay, each play’s theme is hand-selected through a gradual step-by-step process.

“We get [inspiration] from many different things throughout the year, make a list of five ideas, throw those in the trash because they are pedestrian, and then start with a fresh list of three and narrow it down to the one we vibe with the most. Because we are creating a video this year, a movie theme seemed fitting!” elaborated Ms. Noorzay, who is one of many Preuss teachers that help make the Shakespeare Festival possible. Contrary to popular belief, Shakespeare Festival is not just produced by the Drama Department.

The festival is a massive collaboration from the entire Preuss Community. The Drama Department is responsible for preparing actors to perform in each play. The Engineering Department is responsible for building and setting up the stage sets. The Music Department is responsible for producing original music for each production, with assistance from Art of Elan instructor Diego Rodriguez, who is in charge of leading composition students to produce original tracks for each play. Last, but certainly not least, the PTA helps to fund the production of each Festival through their snack sales.

This year’s production is unique in that it was completely filmed instead of being performed in front of a live audience, which had been a stable tradition at the Preuss School UC San Diego.

Ms. Noorzay admits that while she dearly misses the live theatrical performances, future productions will most likely be done through a combination of film and live performances. She also finds the positive in the new digital format of the Shakespeare Festival.

“It does allow for greater accessibility for family and friends, advisory class watching, and a fun ‘Night at the Movies’ on campus,” she explained.

Students can enter either an Art, Drama, or Engineering class if they want to collaborate in future Shakespeare Festival productions.

Stay tuned for upcoming Shakespeare Festivals, as they will certainly blow you away like a tumbleweed in the middle of an intense cowboy shoot-out!